Psalm 115:1, 11, 14-18 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness . . . All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord! He is your helper and your shield . . . May the Lord richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth. The heavens belong to the Lord, but he has given the earth to all humanity. . . . We can praise the Lord both now and forever!
I’m reading a novel about the civil war, written from the perspective of the confederacy. It includes a sermon by a preacher defending as biblical the institution of slavery, as obvious as the inferiority of the Irish and of women. And it details the atrocities committed by the Federalists as they completely lost sight of any goal other than utterly destroying their enemy, their fellow Americans. In the novel, the twelve-year-old protagonist wonders how the idea of fighting for Union matches the fact that the soldiers in their brutality were teaching the South to hate them.
Yikes! Amid the echoes of this same loss of perspective in our political discourse today, Psalm 115 feels to me this morning like a breath of bracing fresh air. God has given the earth to all humanity. We are meant to steward it, and share it, not to fight over it like spoiled kids who think they are the center of the universe or by rights ought to be. Over and over again this beautiful psalm points us away from our idolatry and back to the Lord who, when we celebrate the fact that He—who profoundly loves each one of us!—is the center of the universe. He can put us back on track and pour out his blessings. “He will bless those who fear the Lord, both great and lowly” (verse 13). I don’t have to be “great,” whatever I think that means, to be blessed by the Lord! In fact, Jesus taught that it is the “lowly” who can most enjoy God’s favor.
He loves each one of us so much! He wants so much to bless us! Can we stop spouting nonsense and stop fighting and hurting each other, and turn back to trusting the Lord to be our helper and protector and provider? Can I?
OK. I’m climbing down from my soapbox now. I never have been good at keeping my balance up there.